Art Jakarta 2019: Post Fair Report

View of the fair as you walk in, featuring Eko Nugroho’s Moving Landscape and Happy to be Alienated, presented by Arario Gallery as part of Art Jakarta Spot.
Albert Yonathan’s ceramic installation Solar Worship, made up of terracotta pieces laid out to present rays of light emanating from its centre point. Also a part of Art Jakarta Spot, presented by Mizuma Gallery.
Close view of one of three movable porcelain dolls by Yogayakarta-based artist Putu Arya.
External view of Filipino artist Ronald Ventura’s Bobro’s World Tour, Jakarta, an installation resembling a private man-cave, complete with its own karaoke room. Presented by Yavuz Gallery as part of Art Jakarta Spot. Photo courtesy Art Jakarta.
1. General view of the three-day fair which welcomed over 39,000 visitors at the JCC Senayan.
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CoBo Social Chinese Abstraction Series

Big artworks and sugary doughnuts—real and otherwise—were plentiful last week at the Jakarta Convention Centre where Indonesia’s longest running art fair, Art Jakarta, held its 11th edition from August 30 through September 1.

TEXT: Denise Tsui
IMAGES: Denise Tsui for CoBo Social unless otherwise stated

View of the fair as you walk in, featuring Eko Nugroho’s Moving Landscape and Happy to be Alienated, presented by Arario Gallery as part of Art Jakarta Spot.

All eyes were on the highly anticipated 2019 iteration of Art Jakarta—previously known as Art Bazaar Jakarta until 2017—which underwent major transformations spearheaded by collector and IndoArtNow founder Tom Tandio, as the new fair director. Waving goodbye to the garish red carpet of the Ritz Carlton, the fair upgraded to the Jakarta Convention Centre, an improvement many gallerists applauded.

Welcoming over 39,000 visitors across three days, Art Jakarta hosted a neat offering of 70 galleries, out of which some 30 were Indonesian; a sign of commitment to the local art scene. Although international blue-chip galleries were missing from the roster, some of their Asia directors could be seen roaming the fair—likely wanting to test the grounds before making the dip. In light of the recent fold of Art Stage Singapore and Jakarta, and rumours of an impending global economic recession, the question of market health and confidence in the Southeast Asia region has been up in the air for months. Certainly, some Singaporean council representatives were also spotted during the fair—perhaps doing their research in preparation for the upcoming new fair, ART SG, who have postponed their inaugural launch to late 2020.

 

Albert Yonathan’s ceramic installation Solar Worship, made up of terracotta pieces laid out to present rays of light emanating from its centre point. Also a part of Art Jakarta Spot, presented by Mizuma Gallery.

 

Fairs are costly affairs; this is no hidden secret. Galleries easily fork out five-figure sums and above for participation. This is well before other costs that continue to stack up the bills. So it’s also no surprise that one of the biggest measures of success for a fair is down to its ability to draw in collectors, locally and regionally, to drive opportunities for sales in an already saturated fair market. Keeping your galleries happy is paramount. It’s a tough life and only the fittest survive.

This is where Tandio’s leadership and the capability of his management team appear to have delivered. Ensuring market sustainability and gallery satisfaction was top on the list for Fair Consultant Gil Schneider while renowned curator Enin Surpriyanto as Artistic Director focused giving the fair a boost in artistic caliber. Of the galleries I spoke to, many, if not all, were delighted with how the fair performed. Mizuma Gallery (Tokyo/Singapore/New York) noted a pleasant improvement. Sales were solid and foot traffic did not ease. Yavuz Gallery (Singapore)—who are on the brink of opening their new Sydney outpost—felt the fair was well promoted and logistics were smooth. As director, Can Yavuz dashed off to brave the notorious Jakarta traffic, he flashed a smile and two thumbs up. Several galleries also hinted at a strong interest to participate again next year.

 

Close view of one of three movable porcelain dolls by Yogayakarta-based artist Putu Arya.

 

Big, bold aesthetics was certainly a trend in the fair. From Ashley Bickerton at Gajah Gallery (Singapore/Yogyakarta) to Muklay at Edwin’s Gallery (Jakarta) and more, there was no shortage of bright colours and pop culture inspired works. Sugary delectables were also on offer with Gallery Yeh (Seoul) dedicating half of their booth to the glossy ceramic donuts by Jaeyong Kim. Quieter inspection rewarded us with the delicate paper-cutting of Mujahidin Nurrahman and intricate paintings of Eddy Susanto at Lawangwangi (Bandung) while Putu Arya’s porcelain dolls captured ones attention with their soft beauty at ART_UNLTD, a booth to showcase emerging artists backed by the Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy (BEKRAF). Elsewhere, Irfan Hendrian’s paper sculptures at Sullivan+Strumpf (Sydney/Singapore) and the moody paintings of Micah Crandall-Bear at D Gallerie (Jakarta) proved popular with buyers.

Outside of the booths, Art Jakarta Spot presented artworks from seven participating galleries that required a little more space—or in the case of Albert Yonathan’s ceramic installation Solar Worship, more than one security guard. For Art Jakarta X, six I Nyoman Masriadi paintings of buffed men and superheros loaned from collectors graced the walls of the VIP Lounge, where one could sip a latte and boost those mid-fair energy slumps with a donut. Based on my daily doughnut check-in, I think Nutella was the all-round winner amongst the sweet toothed.

 

External view of Filipino artist Ronald Ventura’s Bobro’s World Tour, Jakarta, an installation resembling a private man-cave, complete with its own karaoke room. Presented by Yavuz Gallery as part of Art Jakarta Spot. Photo courtesy Art Jakarta.

 

Reasserting the notion of collaboration as a driving force for Art Jakarta, Tandio comments, “We will continue to enhance the Fair in both form and content for future editions by working closely with our partners, supporters and friends.” He further adds. “It is only by working together that we can strengthen the art scenes in both Indonesia and Southeast Asia which will benefit the community as a whole.” Maybe a lesson, or two, can be taken from the Indonesian spirit of togetherness harnessed by Art Jakarta. If the positive reception of the fair from art professionals and general visitors alike are anything to go by, the reinvigorated Art Jakarta is proof that there is still growth to be tapped in the Southeast Asia region and strength in unity when players of an art ecosystem come together.

 

1. General view of the three-day fair which welcomed over 39,000 visitors at the JCC Senayan.

 

 


 

Denise Tsui is currently the Editor for CoBo Social. A Hong Kong-born Aussie with an addiction to coffee, her research interests are primarily in the study of exhibition models and curatorial practices and art from the Southeast Asia Region. Previously she was an editor for ArtAsiaPacific and curator for a private collection of Australian and New Zealand art. A condensed version of her postgraduate curatorial thesis on contemporary Indonesian art was published in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies in 2015.

 

 

 
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